With MCLA individual enrichment program gone, College seeks to emulate its strengths

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After three decades, the College will no longer offer the Individual Enrichment Program (IEP). It was used as a way to offer underprivileged and disadvantaged high school students entering college a chance to acclimate to living on campus.

The program was funded through a federal Student Support Services grant, which MCLA last received funding for in the Fiscal Year 2014. The College received anywhere from $280,000 to around $300,000, depending on the year.

“We applied for another grant, but we did not receive it,” said Cindy Brown, vice president of Academic Affairs.

Although a valued program Brown spoke of in high esteem, the IEP is expensive. It requires the school to house students over the course of their stay, and retain faculty and other staff during that time as well. And the grant was not paying just for IEP. According to Brown, the grant also funded several programs run by Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE), such as academic tutoring.

With resources limited due to the loss of the federal funding, MCLA had to prioritize, and shelved the IEP. However, Brown said that MCLA is considering figuring out what parts of the program worked best in an attempt to emulate what they believe is a highly successful program.

“My belief is that there will be some discussion to see if we can relaunch the summer program,” said Brown. “That conversation needs to happen now.”

Junior La’Juan Allen brought up the individual enrichment program up to the Student Government Association (SGA), for which he was recently elected Senator in the special elections. Allen, a participant and later a volunteer in the program, was concerned at the College’s cutting of the program.

“My focus wouldn’t be as intense as it is,” said Allen. “That program changed me. It gave me confidence, it pushed me.”

Allen urged the College to consider bringing the program back immediately. He attributed his experiences with the IEP to his success at MCLA. As a participant he attended three courses, of which he got credit for two. The intensity of the work, the overall workload, required study halls and tough grading from professors were effective in getting students prepared for college. Because the program is for low-income and disadvantaged students, Allen said that this was important for them because they might not have been attending college in the first place – let alone go into their freshman year unprepared.

With recent concerns on campus about diversity, Allen said that having an IEP could help with retention.

“You can ramp up targeting urban areas, you can bring minorities to campus, but if you don’t have the resources on campus to help them get acclimated to college life, you won’t retain them.” said Allen.

The IEP, Allen explained, is an important safety net meant to help those more vulnerable, more at risk. He said it was a matter of “morality”.

“We’ve talked about this in the past,” said Brown. “I would be interested in taking a look at people who have taken the program and how they fared. Not just at MCLA, but after college as well.”

Brown said that, due to the expenses of the program, the College would rather research what aspects of the program were most useful to the participating students. One of which was the classroom experience given to students, which put them in the midst of a course selected straight from the undergraduate catalog. Brown said she thought that was a better use of resources than an academic tutoring, which simply didn’t give attendees a proper introduction to college life.

“Whatever model we have I would like to see us offering courses as opposed to tutoring.” said Brown.